Chapter XX. Sermon on Mission of the Comforter--Extracts from recent Charges to the Clergy--Last Charge
BEFORE proceeding to give extracts from the Bishop's later charges to the clergy, we subjoin the following sermon on the "Mission of the Comforter," preached in the Cathedral at Fredericton on Trinity Sunday, 1867:
"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit."--ST. JOHN iii. 8.
There is an important difference between the three first Gospels and the fourth. The three first speak of the facts relating to our Lord's Incarnation as historical truth: St. John deals with their mysterious and sacramental character. We may observe this difference in the very opening of the Gospels. St. Matthew, after connecting our Lord with the royal house of David, simply tells the story of his birth. St. Mark, omitting this as already told, enters almost at once on his ministry. St. Luke, after recounting more fully the history of St. John the Baptist, gives us the particulars which, possibly, he had received from the Blessed Virgin herself, of the Lord's Incarnation, and all the attendant circumstances. But St. John (as the fathers speak) lightens upon us at once like a flash from a thunder-cloud: "In the beginning was the Word." And without pausing to explain why he made use of that expression, he adds: "And the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." What depths of eternal greatness and wisdom are here unfolded; what a mighty mysterious revelation of the Eternal mind, in a few verses, in language transparently simple, in depth of meaning wholly unfathomable!
The same difference of treatment is apparent in St. John's account of the two Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. The first three Evangelists (with very slight variations) furnish us with the same account of our Lord's baptism; St. Matthew and St. Mark record the general commission to baptize all nations. All three Evangelists record the institution of the Lord's Supper; St. Luke according perfectly with the account of St. Paul in the first epistle to the Corinthians. St. John does not record the institution of the Lord's Supper at all; but he dwells on the mysteries connected with both sacraments, and refers to their perpetual witness to Divine Truth in his first general epistle: "There are three that bear witness on earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." In the third chapter of his Gospel he selects Nicodemus, one of the great council of the nation, as the person whose conversation with our Lord he deems it fittest to record; and he proves from that discourse "the great necessity of the Sacrament" of baptism,2 of a new birth by water and the Spirit. None are excluded from this necessity. All, learned or unlearned, rich or poor, venerated rabbi or "simple folk," must stoop by this door;: for none can enter into the kingdom of Jesus but such as are born of water and of the Spirit. Nicodemus avows himself astonished at the statement. He cannot understand the mystery. He asks in amazement, can the natural birth take place a second time? Our Lord does not condescend to explain His statement, but assists the clouded understanding of His disciple by the illustration in the text: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou nearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." It is important to have a distinct conception of the points of the comparison, and of its bearing on the whole conversation.
Our Lord had announced to the astonished rabbi a new and spiritual life connected with His kingdom. He showed him that all who enter His kingdom partake of a new birth, and that in this new birth there are two parts, the visible and the invisible; the water which cleanses the body, and the Spirit which purifies the soul. Water, in the old dispensation, had been used as an outward means of bodily restoration; it should now be made use of in the "mystical washing away of sin." Our Lord connects the earthly element with the spiritual grace by a link, the subtlety of which altogether escapes us, so that what is perceptible to our observation is inscrutable to our understanding. he leaves it to time, and to the gracious teaching of His Spirit, to make known to Nicodemus the practical working of this truth. For we do not know that our Lord baptized Nicodemus, nor do we know at whose hands he received baptism. The mystery of the Sacrament is what St. John sets forth, and loves to dwell upon. In his view, it exalts the dignity of His Master to raise the Sacrament in the eyes of men. In our days men speak of elevating Christ when they depreciate His Sacraments, as if Christ could possibly be magnified by undervaluing what Christ instituted for the benefit of the whole world. Surely such Christians take a very different view of truth from the inspired Apostle. One would suppose the true way to raise one's Master in men's thoughts was not to idolize the servant, but to magnify the Master's law, and to esteem the lightest word spoken by Him as more precious than gold; to think of Him as ordaining nothing in which He was not forever present, never moving in the sphere of form and ceremony, but in that of intense solemn reality. In short, to exalt Christ is to lower the man who is sent in the greatness of the God who sends him; to magnify the thing done, rather than the earthly doer thereof.
On a former occasion I set before you the gracious work of the Holy Spirit on the Church at large, invigorating it with new life; bestowing on it both miraculous powers and spiritual graces; endowing the Sacraments with the gift of His presence; and so making the one to become, when rightly received, the ordinary channel of our new Birth, and the other the means whereby we receive the Lord's Body and Blood; inspiring fallible men with the power to reveal new and Divine Truth; commissioning His servants to declare that Truth, and validly to perform spiritual functions. But beside this general gift to the Church at large, the Holy Ghost carries on in the hearts of the faithful a work leading to their personal sanctification and salvation. On this work I now desire chiefly to speak. And I wish you all to observe distinctly that when I magnify the Sacrament which Christ appointed, I neither attribute to it a superstitious charm, nor wish to exalt it above the dignity which the inspired writer ascribes to it, much less would I deny the necessity of that continual life-long work of grace in the soul, of which the Sacrament is both the sign and the seal. Our Lord's illustration in the text is taken from the natural world. This is His continual habit, to dwell on and to spiritualize what we call nature, but which is not a power apart from God, but God's own handiwork; for not only is the God of Nature also the God of Grace, but His work in the one sphere is analogous to his work in the other. A very simple elementary truth, one would suppose, yet how much forgotten, misunderstood, misrepresented. How many false principles would have been avoided in ancient and modern times, if men had only believed (as Scripture teaches) that God works in grace as He works in nature, making allowance for the different subjects on which He works, and the different purposes He has in view. When God works in Nature He works on Matter; it has no power to resist His will; it forms such combinations as He directs, and is subject to such laws as he imposes. But when He works in Grace, He works on Mind, to which He has vouchsafed a likeness in immortal being and attributes to Himself; to which He has given a power denied to Matter--the power to reflect, to compare, to will, to love, to hate, nay to work with or to resist, for its own good, or its own undoing, Omnipotence itself. The destiny of Matter is made for it. The destiny of Mind, the mind makes for itself, though whenever it works for good it must be aided and moulded by the plastic power of a higher, wiser, nobler mind. And yet some men would represent God as acting more arbitrarily, capriciously, tyranically, and far less lovingly, on the world of Mind than on the world of Matter; as less full of goodwill to the soul that thinks than to the matter incapable of thought; and as "passing by," with a lofty indifference, the necessities, and the woes, and the aspirations of the souls which He has permitted for ever to exist. Surely the Bible, soundly interpreted, teaches no such doctrine; and the common sense of mankind will for ever revolt against it.
"The wind bloweth where it listeth." The grace of the comparison is wholly lost in English, because we use one word for the wind and another for the Holy Spirit, whereas both in the Greek and Hebrew tongues the same word expresses both ideas. So that some' have translated the text, "The Spirit bloweth where He listeth," yet we cannot doubt incorrectly, as thus the point of analogy is lost.
Again, there are two words in the Greek signifying wind, one applicable to the more violent motion of the atmosphere, and the other, which is here used, signifying rather the gentler breathing of the air, which is in constant motion. "The wind bloweth where it listeth:" not the hurricane with its impetuous violence; not the simoon with pestilential blast; but rather (as it has been well translated) "the air breatheth where it listeth." Go forth into the woods at noon, on some warm summer's day, and note the deep silence that prevails. The song of birds is hushed; the lowing of the cattle is still; the very hum of insects is scarcely audible. Not a cloud crosses the sky; not a breath of wind is felt. Suddenly, without a note of preparation, without knowing "whence it comes, or whither it goes," a rustle is heard in the forest. Every leaf feels the sweet impulse; a breath passes over the water, a soft murmur is heard, and gently dies away. "So is every one that is born of the Spirit." The free motion of the air is one of the greatest mysteries in nature. It is perceptible to all our faculties. It is the sustenance of life. It infuses into us new vigour and unspeakable delight. Yet it is inscrutable. The whence, the whither, the how, the why, what philosopher can tell us? The secret mystery of its coming and going no man knows. This vital air that breathes everywhere in constant, healthful, life-sustaining motion, sometimes fluttering as a whisper or heard as a "small still voice," sometimes rising like a "mighty wind" that fills and overawes and is then hushed into silence, is our Lord's beautiful illustration of the working of the Holy Spirit on the mind of man.
We learn from the comparison that the influence of the Spirit is as wide-spread as the breath of air. It is confined to no class. It is limited to no age or nation. The love of the Spirit is the love of the human race. Yet it is as free as it is wide, independent of human laws and conditions, to be vouchsafed or withdrawn as God sees fit. We may not, indeed, say that the gift was the same before our Lord ascended into Heaven, as after He ascended; nor can we say that the Spirit is vouchsafed to heathens as to Christians; but I think we should not err in saying, that wherever there is a tender, loving heart, a generous impulse, an honest mind, a reverent homage to God, a desire to "do justly and love mercy," a shrinking from injustice, cruelty, and impurity, whether in Jew, heathen, or Christian, there is the motion of the blessed Spirit for good, however far the heart may be from the perfect knowledge of God. And how various and manifold is this gift. As the air blows on the mountain-tops, or in the sultry plains, in the autumn evening, or in the clear frosty air of the winter morn, or is borne in upon the tide ever in healthful though various motion, so the Spirit variously works on the human heart. Now it whispers simple truths into the child's breast; now it nerves the enduring man for a great and hazardous enterprise; now it suggests the first thought of devotion, or strengthens the last act of faith; it speaks comfort to the mourner, and fear to the headstrong youth; it places in the hands of the preacher the "bow that is drawn at a venture," and that sends conviction to the heart; it aids the counsel of friends, and helps the weak to resist temptation, and brings before us the better way, and bids us walk therein, and be safe; it speaks of contentment and hope amidst suffering, and assures us, in dark and dreary hours, that a way will be opened before us, and that at evening-tide there shall be light. O, how gracious is this blessed Spirit, how winning, and how wise! He chooses means adapted to hearts, which differ as widely as the faces of mankind. He does not force truth upon us, but presents it to the mind, so that it may be the heart's own choice, inviting, persuasive, yet not irresistible, for then there could be no grace in accepting it; and that the Holy Spirit is not irresistible it is important to show for several reasons.
Nothing can more clearly prove this than our Lord's impassioned, bitter cry, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered tliv children together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" Words full of the insult of the deepest mockery had there been anything withheld which the Grace of God could have given, consistently with man's own personal responsibility of accepting or rejecting the offered mercy. And St. Paul's earnest entreaty is of the same nature. "We, then, as workers together with God, beseech you also, that ye receive not the Grace of God in vain." Yet He entreats mockingly if no grace that might be resisted were vouchsafed. If the Holy Spirit could not be resisted, though all might be saved by compulsion, salvation would not be the glorious crown of the Christian's own life-long struggle. All the sympathy of Christ with His much-tried and faithful soldiers would be lost; all the sympathy of the redeemed in Heaven with each other would be destroyed. For what is sympathy but fellow-feeling with other sufferers in their endurance? The redeemed will love each other in Heaven because they have all "come out of great tribulation," and they love Christ in Heaven because the Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son to help them in their struggles, not to force them into salvation. They know they would never have readied that blessed shore without His constant aid, and yet there is a humble, healthful consciousness within each heart of having not done violence to those gentle breathings of goodness, of having made a vigorous and continued effort, of having cherished a life-long desire, of having struck out with both hands earnestly to reach the wished-for shore.
We know that even in the lower things, in schools, or contests for earthly rewards, if prizes ten times more valuable were bestowed without an effort, they would be valueless in the eyes of those who received them. And what meaning would those noble words have to us, "Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God;" and again, "But we see Jesus for the sufferings of death, crowned with glory and honour;" if instead of bearing our cross after Him, we were landed in Heaven without an effort, and had no need to raise an arm, or maintain a struggle to take us thither? So that the doctrine of irresistible grace is founded on a misconception of the whole nature of man, and of the reward proper to man's nature, and on a misinterpretation of all the passages of Scripture which describe the struggle and the success of man.
So, then, as the grace of the Holy Spirit is resistible, as that blessed Person may be resisted, grieved, vexed, quenched, and His light kindled or put out within us, we should see that we put forth all the powers and desires of our minds to meet that gentle motion, and to fall in with its first suggestions. Nor are we to look for His operation commonly, in a way implying violence, or sudden fiery impulses, that take the heart by storm, and leave no room for resistance. When the Holy Ghost first came down from Heaven, it was indeed "like a mighty wind, that shook the house" where the Apostles were assembled; for He was sent to give evidence to unbelievers of a power that could not be resisted, and to support weak and persecuted believers in the discharge of their high mission. But the miracle was never exactly repeated, not even in the Apostolic times, and the gift of tongues has since been withdrawn. We know, from the history of Elijah, that not in the "great and strong wind which rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks," nor in the "earthquake," nor in the "fire," but in the "still small voice" of love, the Lord's presence was manifested. So it is not for man to assemble his fellows, and prescribe the manner of the Spirit's operation. "Now it is to be seen and felt; in this way only; on these very benches, with these set expressions of feeling and with none other, ye must be born again; feel as I have felt, or ye cannot be born of the Spirit at all." This is the direct opposite of the text. It is not the gentle motion of the air, infinitely various in its operation; now waving on the tops of lofty pines, now whispering on the lowly flower, now stealing over the wide prairie, or visiting the retired valley, or lurking behind the summer cloud, or quivering on the aspen leaf, and then retiring into silence; it is rather the fiery furnace-blast, that pours forth fast and furious, scorches but not invigorates, and requires again and again to be kindled by the same spasmodic effort. We do not look for the gentle promptings of the Spirit in such ways as these, much less should we limit His grace to such means. We may admit that He can bless efforts the most irregular, but we may rather expect His blessing in the meek and humble ways of sobriety and trustfulness, such as his word records and prescribes. The greatest favour ever bestowed by the Holy Ghost upon one of the children of men was granted to a lowly Jewish maiden, who in few words of artless modesty and confiding faith, with no graphic description or sensation-speech, humbly submitted to the gracious will and words of the Most High. And the words of the Angel were as simple as her own. In no less reverent spirit does our Church train her children to ask for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and with no less trustfulness does she humbly expect that it will be bestowed in answer to our prayers.
It may possibly be objected to our Baptismal Service, "Why, if you deny the Holy Spirit's visible operation, do you assert so positively that the child is regenerate?" But there is a vast difference between what we may expect when we use the means which Christ has prescribed, and where means are used which men invent themselves, to which no Divine promise is annexed. The Sacrament of Baptism is a Divine institution, to which Christ has promised His presence; and wherever Christ is, His Spirit is present also to bless and sanctify. But let it be remembered that when we say the child is regenerate, we do not mean what is intended when people say the man is converted. Conversion supposes a change of mind, an actual turning from sin to holiness. We ascribe no such change to the infant. We say that by the grace of the Holy Spirit it is taken out of the state of nature in which it was born, and is placed in a state of grace; it is made a Christian; it is now God's child; it has the adoption and the privileges of sons; it is an heir of the kingdom; and that so much is implied in all the Scriptural accounts of baptism in the New Testament, and that St. Peter expressly makes such promises to our children. But we nowhere speak of converted children. In order to conversion, a person must have committed actual sin, which we are sure infants have not done. Further, we do not limit the grace of the Holy Spirit to any one time, nor do we say in what manner He will work on the heart of the child; but we say distinctly, that in order to eternal salvation, the child, if it live and grow up, must "crucify the old man and utterly abolish the whole body of sin," and that "all things belonging to the Spirit living and growing in him, having victory over the devil, the world, and the flesh, and being endued with heavenly virtues," he will thus, and thus only, be in the end "everlastingly rewarded."
This office, therefore, only thanks God for a present promised benefit, but neither prescribes the manner in which the Holy Ghost will at any future time work on the man's heart, nor does it in any way anticipate his future and eternal state, except according to the conditions which the Scripture prescribes as necessary for all Christians.
And now, my brethren, how shall we improve this passage of God's holy word to our own use and benefit? If the air that breathes in constant motion be our blessed Lord's own symbol of His Spirit's grace; if we daily breathe and enjoy, and are sustained by the air, how much more should we long for, how careful should we be to pray for the higher gift? Above all, how much should we strive not to provoke, resist, grieve, or quench the Spirit of Truth, of Order, of Decency, of Beauty, of Wisdom, of Fear, of Love, Charity, Purity, and Peace; provoke Him by opposition, vex Him by neglect, quench His rays by deeds of darkness and impurity, by deeds and words of violence, by stifling the convictions of our conscience, by wilful disorder, disunion, and disobedience to any good advice; for if, even under the old covenant, "when they rebelled and vexed His Holy Spirit, He turned to be their enemy, and fought against them," how much greater the sin, how much surer and more severe the punishment, when the nobler blessing is obstinately rejected; and remember that all non-improvement of ourselves is virtually rejection of the grace which helps us to improve.
The more common and ordinary our duties in life are, "the more necessary it is" (as has been well said) "to keep up the tone of our minds to that higher region of thought and feeling, in which every work seems dignified in proportion to the ends for which, and the spirit in which, it is done." "And what we achieve depends less on the amount of time we possess than on the improvement of our time."
I leave the subject with one word of warning suitable to a generation ever boasting of superior light, yet showing too many tokens of unreality and blindness to its faults: "If ye were blind, ye should have no sin; but now ye say we see: therefore your sin remaineth." And with one word of inexpressible comfort: "The water that I shall give him shall be in him a fountain of water, springing up unto everlasting life." And with one word of praise and trust, fit to express our sense of God's great mercy: "All my fresh springs are in Thee!"
The following extracts are taken from a charge delivered on the 30th June, 1880:
Reverend and Dear Brethren:
It seems desirable that at certain periods of our life we should pause and look within us to see what proof we are making of our ministry, and how far the objects which daily engross our time are helping us in the work of our salvation and the salvation of others. At such periods our minds may be withdrawn from many of the passing excitements of the day, and our eyes may be more steadily fixed on great moral and religious questions which concern the well-being of the spiritual Body to which we belong. The holiness of our members, our unity in the principles and rules given us by the Church herself, and the true methods of progress and permanence in well-doing, together with some regard to our financial condition, may well occupy our thoughts; and it will be my endeavour to lead your minds in this direction to-day.
Of all notes of a standing and progressive church, the holiness of its members is the most important. It is the one permanent and eternal condition of the Church of God, whether militant or triumphant; without this, all party organization, all worldly respectability, all attractions and excitements, all popularity, all increase in numbers, is of no avail. The more ample our endowments, the more abundant our individual wealth, the larger our numbers, the more conspicuous our stations, the worse we are if we are unholy. It must be admitted that the tendency of all things around us is to forget this truth. Holiness is no qualification for office, no passport to society. Wealth is the universal measure of good things. Wealth is the secret of power in the Church and in the State. To gain it appears to many to be the sum total of human happiness. To lose it seems to lose all that makes life worth having.
An immense responsibility, therefore, rests upon the clergy and laity of our Church, for there is but one gospel standard for both, to be a holy body. More dutiful, unostentatious, self-sacrificing piety is required in all of us, and a deeper study of Holy Scripture, because objections are commonly urged against its inspiration and authenticity, which formerly were never heard of; and a more dutiful obedience to the rules laid down in our Book of Common Prayer, for how can we expect our flocks to comply with our exhortations if we break the rules of the Church every day of our lives, and our whole tone and temper be adverse to its spirit? How can the loose morality and sinking faith of multitudes in every land be looked upon without a jealous fear for our own condition? When a notorious atheist and teacher of immorality, who would take an oath, regarding it as a farce, is elected to the British Parliament, and when legislators nearer home proclaim themselves absolved from all reference to Scripture rules in matters where the very basis of faith and morality rests on the word of God, we may well see what firmness and courage are required of us to stand sternly by the truth of Scripture, and to abide by its holy and prudent restraints upon our passions. Nor is there a more important source of strength in our efforts after holiness than quietness, properly understood. The mechanical inventions of modern religionism are so complicated, and its demands so incessant and imperious, that a clergyman in the full tide of popularity seems deprived of time for reflection, study and meditation, Hurried from platform to platform, incessantly framing motions and contriving constitutions, soliciting new speeches or delivering them himself, he is in danger of becoming a talking machine, suddenly set in motion, without control, direction, or profitable result. Holiness seems frittered away and broken into loose fragments by never-ending excitements of the mere intellect, forgetting that "the talk of the lips leadeth only to penury." What a transition from this endless talk must be the deep silence of Eternity!
Such thoughts may surely be deepened by the reflection that in the last three years, the hand of death has been heavy upon us, no less than seven of our small baud having been called to their eternal home: Mr. Milner, at the great age of ninety-one; Mr. Wood, aged eighty-seven; Mr. Allan Coster, at the age of eighty, and Canon Harrison, all having preceded me in their laborious work in New Brunswick; and Mr. Carr, Mr. C. G. Coster and Mr. Woodman, ordained to the priesthood by me, and cut off in the midst of a career of usefulness and in the prime of life. Thus those who lived in the early days of the Province, when the greater part of Church of England missions to the heathen were unknown, and those who have witnessed great changes in all our relations, political and religious, have gone down to the grave together, leaving us to question ourselves, which of us shall go next, and what is our preparation for the eternal world?
I spoke of the progress of our Church. With a full sense of all that has been left undone or done amiss, I desire thankfully to acknowledge the loving zeal and earnestness with which both clergy and laity have prompted and seconded my imperfect efforts to serve them. In constant visitation of the Diocese, it is impossible not to rejoice in the earnestness of the clergy and their flocks; in a greater degree of reverence, without which no service of prayer and praise can be acceptable to God or beneficial to ourselves; in increased opportunities of spiritual privileges both on the Lord's Day and on other days; in a more systematic and faithful preparation for Confirmation; in a far larger proportion of the confirmed (in many cases the whole number) who become apparently sincere, outwardly reverent, and, I hope, habitual communicants; in the loving care bestowed on the material buildings themselves, in regard to which, the expense of maintenance of churches falls wholly on the parishioners; in the number of persons who on week days and even in. the time of harvest crowd to country churches to welcome their Bishop and communicate with him; in the unpaid and untiring labour of many hardly worked men of business who never make their labour an excuse for neglecting to give their most valuable assistance; and in a great general increase (with a few exceptions) both of subscriptions and donations to the maintenance of the Church and the clergy. God grant that there may be as great an increase of personal holiness, of temperance, sobriety and chastity, of charity and unity amongst us, such as our holy religion requires. It is also a subject of congratulation that more young men, natives of the Province, are devoting themselves to the work of the ministry. Some of them, during their college career, have proved most energetic and useful helpers to the Church in Sunday school and occasional week-day services; and I hope the time may come when the wealthier members of our Church will not withhold their sons from the ministry because it is a profession poorly paid, but will think themselves honoured by being able to bring into the service of God some part of that wealth with which He has bountifully endowed them.
I also rejoice that there has grown up among us gradually, in the course of years, a better general understanding of each other's intentions, a more hearty and fraternal concord, such as Christians should do all in their power to cherish, and that the spirit of malevolent suspicion and perpetual insinuation of ignorance and faithlessness has been put down, and has received a severe check, as I hope, by God's blessing it always will. Our Synod meetings, where the freest discussion is allowed, have no doubt contributed to this good end; and the alarming predictions respecting their result have proved to be without foundation.
A few words of advice from me on some of the subjects first spoken of will, I trust, not seem out of place.
And first, of Confirmation. Important as it is to make a faithful preparation for the rite, it is sometimes forgotten that the real work is after confirmation. It is then that the most dangerous time of a young person's life begins; when the heart, susceptible of good or bad influences, has been for a short time impressed by the earnestness of the pastor, but is sure to meet with counteracting influences, with ridicule, with temptation in one or more of its varied forms, with the unhealthy excitements or even heresies of the day, fostered by self-conceit and spiritual pride. How many have been lost to the Church and to God from the delusive notion that our work is done when we have seen them confirmed. Considering, therefore, the ignorance and instability of the young, communicants' classes may be found of advantage, that good habits may be formed and strengthened, and help may be given in the many difficulties which surround the young. The pastor will thus be looked upon not as a mere preacher, but as a guide and director, to assist the conscience in forming correct and godly determinations, and in bringing them into action. Among these good habits thus nourished will be the habit of daily prayer, of strict honesty, temperance and chastity, of constant communion, and, I believe, of early communion. For without laying down this as an indispensable rule, one's feeling of ordinary reverence would lead' one to see how well it becomes a sinner who owes everything to God's pardoning mercy in Christ, to ask for spiritual pardon and strength, and receive his spiritual food before, and not after, he has been all day long enjoying God's temporal bounty, just as every Christian asks a blessing before he sits down to meat. Another good habit which should unquestionably be formed in the young is that of dedicating to God a tenth of their substance, small or large. Did our laity universally act on this rule we should now be in a very different position. Till they come up to this Scriptural requisite they can hardly expect God's blessing on their profits and possessions.
In his charge in 1883, the Bishop addressed the clergy as follows:
Reverend and Dear Brethren:
In addressing you for, I believe, the thirteenth time at a Visitation of the Clergy, it is my duty, first, to give thanks to our Heavenly Father for the abundant measure of health and strength which He has been pleased to bestow on me during the last thirty-eight years, so that I have not been obliged to postpone my visitation from sickness once during that long period; and as, with the consent of the Synod, I have secured the assistance of a dear brother who is ever ready to assist me, I still hope to devote the rest of my life, with all ray remaining powers, to the service of the Diocese. I do not know where a Bishop can be so happy, as well as so useful, as in continuing to work with those who have been admitted by him to the ministry, and have been trained up under his own fostering care. They will certainly be the readiest to grant him all the aid in their power, and to make duo and kindly allowance for those infirmities and mistakes into which he, in common with themselves, may fall. At almost every Visitation some circumstance has arisen to make our meeting one of unusual interest. One period witnessed what few of us can remember, the consolidation of the good work which the late Archdeacon Coster worthily began, in laying the foundation of our Church Society. Another period witnessed the completion and consecration of our Cathedral. At another the decease of several of the elder clergy struck the note of warning. At another our hearts were gladdened by the noble benefactions of some of our deceased members. At another we were roused from torpor by the announcement that the long delayed reduction of the Home Society's grant would become a stern reality, and a voice sounded in our ears--
"Sleepers wake, a voice is calling;
'Tis the watchman on the walls.
Arise, and take your lamps."
At another the important step was taken of the formation of a Synod for this Diocese, built on the strong foundations of the Holy Scriptures and the Book of Common Prayer, fully recognizing the respective rights of Bishop, priests and laity, and in full communion with the mother church at home, though not part of its establishment, or retaining legal connection with the English state. At another period we joined in union with our brethren in the larger and wealthier Dioceses of Canada and formed part of one Provincial Synod. At another your own Bishop was elected by the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada to be their Metropolitan, agreeably to the provisions of the first canon of the Provincial Synod. At another period united and persistent efforts were made to bring home to the hearts of all our members the duty of not only supporting their own churches and pastors, but of extending liberal aid to all poor missions within the Diocese. At another the important step was taken of electing a Bishop Coadjutor, with power to succeed me after my decease. It would be unthankful to God not to acknowledge such manifest signs of progress, whilst we must sorrowfully admit that very much has been left undone. Here, as in England and elsewhere, the poor and not the rich, as a rule, set the example of gifts corresponding to their means, while great numbers of our communion give next to nothing. And, while the books of the Government Savings Banks bear witness to a ten-fold increase of personal property within a few years, and while luxury and extravagant show are ten-fold what they were, systematic charity on scriptural principles remains, it is sad to say, unpractised by too many professed churchmen.
It will, perhaps, be said that collections of money are not the sole test of vital religion in the heart. Admitting this to be true, it must be remembered, on the other hand, that faith is not the mere assertion of any formula, even of that which has been called articulus stantis vel cadentis ecelesiae, and unquestionably, in the view both of St. Paul and St. James, a grateful, liberal heart is one of the surest evidences of that faith "which worketh by love," without which "it is impossible to please God."
After this reference to the past, I proceed to set before you some thoughts on duties specially incumbent on you at the present time. The words of St. Paul solemnly and clearly warns us, "O Timothy, keep the deposit," the treasure of undefiled faith committed to thee. With every desire to believe and hope the best of all, we can hardly fail to see a lamentable want of faith in Apostolic doctrine everywhere prevailing. There is a vague reception of one or two parts of Christianity, soothing to the ill-informed and half-awakened conscience; the rest of its teaching is denied or neglected, and the Divine order is entirely broken. By many the necessity and the efficacy of Christ's sacraments are surrendered; by others the promise made on the day of Pentecost to parents and children alike is put aside; by some the Atonement and Deity of our Blessed Lord are rejected, and amidst the Babel of discordant tongues, even atheism lifts its horrid head on high and proclaims war against the sacred incommunicable Name. How blest are we, that we are not left in these dangerous days to form our own creed, but simply and resolutely to teach and to maintain what we find plainly laid down in the various offices of our Prayer Book, and which can be "concluded and proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture." This faith under all circumstances, at all hazards, among all people, you, my brethren, are bound to teach and to maintain. Ton are to teach it at home, you are to teach it in your Sunday Schools, you are to enforce and explain it in your discourses; you are, above all, to express it in your lives; everywhere and among all men you are to be known as those who will never betray or surrender the faith of the Church of which you are ministers.
I hope it is not necessary for me to say much to you on the necessity of a religious life; and yet mourning over some sad instances of declension, I must remind you that the evil which an unfaithful pastor works cannot be measured by the harm that is done to a particular parish. Surely, if ever the saying were true, that "if one member suffer all the members suffer with it," it is so in the present time, when what "is said in the ear is proclaimed on the house-tops," and when it seems as if when men lose their faith in the man whom they trusted, they lose faith in the Church of God itself. Never was there a time when the various graces of the Gospel were more required of us in combination, when the priest must "add to his faith courage, and to courage discrimination, and to discrimination temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience devotion, and to devotion brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness the love that vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, beareth all things as a Christian, believeth of others the best that is possible, and endureth all troubles patiently to the very end." A conspicuous failure in any one of these graces seems sometimes to risk the success of our whole ministry.
Let me also say a few words on order and reverence in your ministrations. It seems to be thought by some well disposed persons that the sole duty of the minister of religion is to preach the Gospel of Christ. This witness borne, this truth set before the people, all-else may be left to chance, and the service of the most High God-may be performed with a carelessness which most men would not tolerate in their own houses. Such persons must have read the Bible to very little purpose, and in a very superficial manner. Of what kind was that Divine pattern given to Moses on the mount, and taught in after ages to David by the Spirit of God? What could be more minute and careful than the Divine rules respecting the forms of the tabernacle, the offerings of the worshippers, and the dress of the priests? Admitting that our great High Priest has not enjoined on us the ceremonies of the old law, we cannot suppose that the principles of Divine worship vitally differ from those which were given by the disposition of Angels at Mount Sinai. If "God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth," spiritual worship is not on that account, careless, irreverent, slovenly worship. The seraphim in Isaiah's vision did not presume to look with bold and unaverted eyes upon the Lord of Hosts. St. John, when he saw the Son of Man in His glory, "fell at His feet as dead." The four and twenty elders, and the representatives of creaturely life fall down and worship. St. Paul, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, tells them that sickness and death were the proper punishment for their irreverence in not "discerning the Lord's Body" when they came to communicate.
Whatever, therefore, plainly manifests to the people our carelessness in the handling of Divine things, our coarse behaviour in celebrating what our Church rightly calls "holy mysteries" is calculated to shock the devout, and to harden the irreligious mind. Why, men may ask, should we believe in a holier presence when our pastor appears unconscious of the gift? Why should we offer gifts to make God's holy board decent and comely, if not rich, when we see him contented with the meanest covering on the meanest table, with total disregard to the plain, undisputed rubrics of the Church? Is the Church of God a music-hall or a theatre? Nay, my brethren, in music-halls the singing is well-rehearsed and carefully performed, after the pattern given by the composer and conductor; and in theatres, the dresses both of the actors and the audience are the best, not the poorest, they can find. But thus it has ever been that the world gives to God the meanest, not the best, of what God has given us, and lavishes on self what the Lord bids ns to renounce if we would be His followers. Let us bear in mind that the pattern for His ministers to follow is that of the Saviour--not of the world. In regard, then, to the vessels for Holy Communion, even if plain, they should be of silver--which is no great demand even for a poor parish--and in every Church there should be a comely, decent font, so arranged that the water used for the Sacrament may never be suffered to remain after baptism, and on no account should a little common basin be placed within a commodious font.
These, however, are topics of inferior weight compared with those which a Bishop in the Church of God should ever dwell upon himself, and should rejoice to inculcate on his clergy. I am glad, therefore, to pass from these "elements of the world" to those enduring truths which the great festival of Saint John Baptist (already ancient when Saint Augustine preached upon it) has in the last month commended to our daily prayers and meditations. The Collect for that day in St. Augustine's time has not been preserved, but our present Collect is the work of men full of the grace and wisdom of the ancient prayers, and able to understand the evil of gathering up the tares by violence, and of rooting up also the wheat with then). This Collect, which bears a family likeness to its glorious predecessors, found a place in the first liturgy of 1549. We have asked in this prayer (and may our petition be mercifully answered) that "we may constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake." And what grace more thoroughly displays the nobility of a man's character than truthfulness? Religious feelings may come and go, like the passions which flit across the human countenance, strong and sincere, but transitory; they may be counterfeited by the scheming hypocrite or exaggerated by the fanatic. Even benevolence may be duped or corrupted by want of simplicity, but truth is a fortress the enemy cannot enter, and against this rock the proud and passionate waves of mere opinion lash themselves in vain. The men who lived and died for truth are those whose reward has been glorious, and whose names are imperishable, their sun will shine out in the kingdom of their Father, when deceit and guile will sink down in the pit that they have made, detected, exposed, and everlastingly contemned. But it is not only the truth that must be spoken, but the patient endurance of our Master that we must especially imitate. "God is strong and patient, and God is provoked every day." Why-then should we complain of our unrequited labour who have neither suffered "cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover bonds and imprisonment," whose severest trials only expose us to unjust accusations, bitter and reproachful names, unworthy motives foolishly imputed, and incessant abuse of the conscientious practice of what we have vowed to perform. If better Christians than ourselves have borne worse hardships patiently, let us be patient and endure; hoping and daily praying for all who may unjustly assail us by word or deed, that they may come to a more reasonable mind, and having carefully studied a subject of which they know but little, may even preach the faith which they laboured to destroy.
In short, Patience, Time and Prayer (as every student of Church history ought to know) are greater solvents of difficulties than the force of tyranny, or the subtleties of law; Patience, which displays the Christian character in its highest exercise of forbearance and of love; Time, which works unexpected changes in the most stubborn minds, and in their way of looking at things, so that prejudices we dissolved and obstacles vanish, if not within our sight, yet as the result of our endeavours; Prayer, which brings to our aid the grace of an unseen Power, working in its noblest wisdom, providing better things for us than in our weakness we know how to compass, and crowning us with unexpected triumph when in the eyes of the world we were most unsuccessful.
Nor can I dismiss you without an earnest injunction to that holy love which is the "bond of perfectness." Differences of judgment, schools of thought, existed in Apostolic times, and even Inspiration itself did not prevent the writers of the New Testament from presenting the same truth in which they all agreed in a somewhat different aspect to their readers. Making this charitable allowance for one another, we ought to see that each one of us, who believes all the holy truths of the Christian religion, and has voluntarily subscribed to the same formularies, and is duly licensed by the Bishop, has as much right in the Church of our Communion as the other, and should have the right hand of fellowship extended to him. Subtleties of law in which the professors of the science differ quite as much as the clergy, may embitter, but will never compose the differences in the Church, especially where rubrics appear perfectly plain to those whose common sense and earnestness cannot. agree to be tossed about by the contradictory decisions of the courts of law. Be these things as they may, the truly Catholic spirit, the truly fraternal and loving heart will desire that as much or if possible more good may be done by the Christian brother with whose methods of action he cannot entirely agree. I do not say let all differences disappear or be smoothed over, but I say let our love shine out pre-eminent over all. "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour be put away from you, with all malice, and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even, as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you." For this Christlike spirit let us all devoutly pray. Amen.
On the Festival of St. Peter, 1886, the Bishop delivered his last charge, from which not one word can properly be omitted:
Reverend and Dear Brethren:
Being permitted by the mercy of God to address you once more-on a triennial visitation, it is my pleasure as well as my duty to speak to you as one who is "Saved by Hope." It would be idle to attempt to conceal from you our difficulties, but it is on every account desirable to take the most hopeful view of our position. If we were a very rich Church, in times of great worldly prosperity, I could not have the same hope. Or, if we were striving to make the Church a clerical club, from which the laity were rigidly excluded, to the support of which they contributed neither money, nor influence, nor time, nor diligence, nor patience, nor prayer, I should have but little hope; or if we were so misguided as to throw all our weight into the upholding one political party, I should have less hope, for the Church was never founded by a party in the State. It never throve on politics, and it was never in a less hopeful condition than when its richest benefices were the ill-earned reward of active and unscrupulous political partisans. My hope for the Church in Canada, of which we are members and ministers, is not that we are so numerous as to control the State; nor that we are so rich as to dispense with the contributions of our members; but than being (as without arrogance we may consider ourselves) a branch of that Church which came to us from the ages past, which no storms of persecution have destroyed, and none of the manifold changes of the world have shaken, we still hope to hand down to our children the truth of God which is indestructible; and though comparatively poor, we labour to make many rich, "content with such things as we have," and seeking the good will and the assistance of all our brethren. It is hopeful, therefore, to look back fifty years, and see what the resources of the Church were then and what they are now; what the number of our communicants was then and what they are now; what the contributions of the laity were then and what they are now; what the number of our clergy and the frequency of our services was then and what they are now; what the appearance of our Church was then and what it is now. It is pleasant to find that we are not despairing because the grant of £3,000 sterling, from home, has been reduced to £1,250, and will be reduced still further, and that we are bracing up our energies to meet and overcome the difficulty.
It is pleasant to find so much interest generally taken in the Sunday Schools, and in increasing the knowledge of the Bible and of the Church, among those who teach in Sunday Schools, though our returns from the clergy are not yet complete. Our examinations for holy orders are more strict, and our clergy have access to theological libraries in their several deaneries. Above all it is a ground of hope when we find the clergy rising to a higher standard of knowledge and of duty, recognizing the blessing of more constant prayer, more frequent communion, and giving more opportunities to their flocks to unite with them in the blessed and heavenly work of prayer and praise.
It is delightful to find that this is done with the zealous and active concurrence of their lay brethren, who seldom fail to respond to the joyful invitation, and turn the feast days of the Church into occasions of earnest intercessions, abundant alms giving, attentive hearing, spiritual communion, and heartfelt thanksgiving to God. In such services it has been my pleasure to mingle, and as long as I have strength, my countenance and support will never be wanting to them. Nor ought I to be backward to acknowledge the active and energetic assistance which has been given by the Bishop Coadjutor to every object that I have named, many which would have failed to receive due support by physical inability on my part to perform all the increasing work of the Diocese. Such are some of the grounds of my hope; but it would not be a true statement were I to disguise the magnitude of the task which lies before us.
The financial prosperity of our Church is owing in a great measure to the active and unpaid support of our laity. To their assistance we owe its present condition, and we look to them for continued and increased care and diligence. But there is no reasonable doubt that our subscription-lists do not manifest any general amount of self-denial. They might be doubled in many instances without hardship. At the same time it is gratifying to see that larger donations come from missions which have less ability to give than they had many years ago, and that for the most part the assessment which is imposed as a necessity is cheerfully and ungrudgingly paid. We look forward with hope to the time when, by the increased support given to our Diocesan Church Society, the general interest taken by every layman in his own parish and mission, and the aid of moderate endowments, arising from benefactions of the living, or the bequests of those who are called to give account of their stewardship, we may become with unqualified satisfaction to ourselves and to others an entirely self-sustaining Church.
But I gladly turn to that advice which it is my duty to give you as' a body of clergy whom God has given into my care. We must thankfully acknowledge that we are spared the trials which fell upon the clergy in former times. But your Bishop is, I hope, the last man who would underrate or fail to sympathize with the trials of the clergy in our own day; yet perhaps the smallness and uncertainty of clerical incomes is not the greatest of the trials of a priest. 'From one serious trouble, the expense of outfit when he enters on the work of a mission, the missionary is to a certain extent released, or at all events he is greatly assisted, by the loan of $250 made by the Church Society without interest, to be repaid in moderate sums. With occasional donations granted by loving parishioners, and due care and forethought, a clergyman, if he be prudent, may keep out of debt. But only if he be prudent. Those who engage in early marriages before they have earned anything for their own support, and those who indulge in unnecessary expenses, cannot, on our limited incomes, keep out of debt. And debt is demoralizing as well as depressing. It is sure to lead to borrowing, and borrowing often supposes heavy interest, and interest supposes shifts and contrivances and all manner of uncomfortable practices, a doubtful morality and a heavy heart. To the younger clergy I unhesitatingly say, it is your duty not to marry until from your own income you have laid by something towards the maintenance of your household and the comfort of those who reasonably look to you for support. For the greater part of those who begin life in debt carry it on to the end, and harass their own minds and the minds of others by want of prudence at an early period. But after all, is not the greatest trial of a clergyman's life in himself? We who are called by the Church to the office and work of priests in the Church of God, who do not shrink from the awful responsibility of the message committed by our Lord to His Apostles, and through them conveyed to us, had need often to ponder in our hearts the words which no subtlety of reasoning can explain away: "Receive the Holy Ghost for the office and work of a priest in the Church of God." We know that they are the Lord's own words, which the Church uses because they are His, and because the promise is given us of His presence with us "all days, even to the end of the world." We know that not the Bishop, but the Bishop's Lord and Master, can alone bestow this or any other spiritual gilt. We know that this is given by the channel of a human instrument, because it pleases Him to work by Human means, and to employ "earthen vessels." We know that the gift which the Lord bestows to render our ministry valid, and His sacraments effectual means of grace, is not to be confounded with the personal sanctification of the priest, which must be sought for by him as it is sought for by every Christian--by humble and constant prayer and diligent use of all the means of grace. But, on the other hand, he to whom the Church says, "Receive," must believe that the Church has wherewithal to give. And that this gift is the gift of the Holy Ghost for the effectual discharge of our ministrations is evident, for from the Spirit of God "every good and perfect gift" proceeds, and surely that gift which is bestowed on us "for the perfecting of the saints and the work of the ministry." When we have ourselves desired this office, when the Church, after due examination, has bestowed it upon us, when the Church calls us priests and our order a priesthood, it were an act of ingratitude and of cowardice to be ashamed of the name when we use the office. None of us taketh this "honor unto himself but he that was called of God, as was Aaron," and yet Aaron's priesthood was disputed. Aaron himself was "compassed with infirmity." "The people made the calf, which Aaron made." And, in that great miracle, when water issued from the rock in Kadesh, Aaron shared in the unbelief which led to the exclusion of both Moses and Aaron from the promised land. If our priesthood be not the sacrificing of bulls and of goats it is none the less a real priesthood, because the Lord Jesus Christ confers it upon us. Aaron's was a typical priesthood. Ours comes from the Great High Priest in heaven, who says to us, "As my Father hath sent me, even so I send you." But does this gift make us arrogant? Does it not rather humble us in the dust? The more our priesthood is connected with the Word of Him who cannot lie, the higher it is above the ancient sacrifices of the Mosaic rites, the more true and real and awful it becomes, and the more holy we ought to be. If our office be far nobler than the hire of the people for a morsel of bread; if we seek to please God rather than man; if we await the judgment of our Master, whose word "pierces us even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and discovering the thoughts and intents of the heart," what manner of persons ought we to be? What integrity, what diligence, what faithfulness, what serious study, what nobleness of purpose, what loyalty to the Church, what discretion, what deadness to the world, what weighing of the Scripture, what "ripeness and perfectness" of age in Christ, what watchfulness in prayer, what patience and humility, what courage and steadfastness, what care for every soul committed to our charge should we continually show. Surely the time of a Bishop's visitation should be a time of close reckoning with ourselves! How imperfectly have we fulfilled our ministry! What shortcomings are there in all our services! In the forty-second year of my Episcopate, no less than fifty of the clergy have been called to their account. As I cast my eye sorrowfully over this number, and wonder at God's sparing mercy to myself, I shudder at the thought that I may prove wanting in that zeal, steadfastness, courage and humility which make me an example to you who still remain amongst us.
"The priest's lips should keep knowledge!" Earnestness and integrity of purpose are great gifts, but the present critical age demands more of us. The knowledge which the priest's lips should dispense is of wider range, and of various kinds. In former days, poor and ignorant people took for granted all that their pastor said, and made no further inquiry. He must know what was right. They were simple and confiding. That was enough. But it is not so now. Everything is called in question, and the whole world is turned loose to inquire, to agitate, to debate, to applaud or to condemn. What chance has the simple minded clergyman who merely reads his chapter without thought, and performs his office without knowing the history of the Prayer Book and what is essential to a right understanding of it? The priests knowledge should above all be Bible knowledge, for this is the point in which so many of his hearers are deficient, and this involves constant labour and the most diligent inquiry. It is easy to select scraps of the English version and quote them authoritatively on all occasions. But if we consider how the Bible is constructed, what knowledge is required of history, of the gradual education of mankind, of successive eras of progress, of the Levitical ritual, of the fulfilment of prophecy in the birth and ministry of Jesus Christ, of the foundation, laws and progress of the Christian Church, of the development of Christian doctrine in the letters of the Apostles, of the history of the Jewish nation since the destruction of the Temple, we must sec that no small task lies before us.
"The priest's lips should keep knowledge!" How careful should we be that in answering the objections of the scoffer we do not insist on unwise and traditional interpretations of Holy Scripture which the text does not contain. How sparing should we be of attempting to lay down a scheme of future events instead of stating clearly the fulfilment of the past. What deep knowledge is required in explaining the history and unfolding the meaning of these ancient creeds, whose root is in the Scripture, whose accuracy of definition was obtained by men deeply learned in Bible truth, who were not only defenders of the faith, but sufferers on account of their maintenance of it. Nor is the knowledge of the foundation and progress of the Church less necessary when our portion in the Catholic faith is denied by some, and the continuance of the Church both before and after the Reformation is set at nought by others. Happily, the greater the difficulty of acquiring such knowledge the more abundantly are we supplied with commentators of orthodox principles and extensive learning. And every year books multiply on us which illustrate some separate portion "of Holy Writ, and throw light on its acknowledged difficulties. Among our numerous benefactors of this kind must be specially enshrined in our remembrance the honored name of the late venerable Bishop of Lincoln, whose deep and extensive knowledge of the Holy Scriptures and of the works of the primitive fathers, and whose unswerving loyalty to the Church is a safe guide to studious clergy; whilst his unsparing liberality has enabled us to enjoy the benefit of his labors at one-half the price which we should otherwise have paid. Such knowledge is indeed a possession forever, a treasure which in this new country we could not otherwise secure, for which no gratitude of ours can be too great, no love can be too fervent.
I am very unwilling to detain you longer, but you will not think me tedious if I add a few words of advice on some important points. First, on the duty of those in whose hands the power of electing rectors to parishes is vested, and on the duty of the clergy in respect of testimonials which they give to persons who are desirous of obtaining a benefice. The law appears to impose checks on all the parties who are interested in this important matter. The laity have a large power entrusted to them, and the law very properly provides that it should not be autocratic and absolutely beyond control. The persons elected must be in priest's orders, without which they cannot, according to the rites of the Church of England, administer Holy Communion in the Church, or in the chamber of the sick and dying; and they must have the Bishop's license, which is a security to the laity that the Bishop has obtained proper and sufficient testimonials from those who are competent to give them, of soberness, piety, and honesty; and this during personal acquaintance for a period of three years. Similar testimonials are required by the heads of respectable firms before they will admit a young man into their employment. A check is likewise imposed on the clergy. For if they give careless testimonials out of mere good nature (as it is termed), they wilfully impose upon the Bishop, and testify to what they might know on inquiry to be untrue, and that by a most solemn attestation to which in writing they have voluntarily set their hands. A check is also imposed upon the Bishop. For if he institute and issue his mandate for induction without sufficient testimonials from the clergy, in respect of personal knowledge for the required time, and from the Bishop of another Diocese (if the person to be elected come from another), then he violates the order of the Church, injures the clergy and laity who are placed under his protection, and subjects himself to ecclesiastical censure. And the laity are equally wrong if they persist in electing a person who is not in priest's orders, or who has no testimonials or insufficient testimonials. And they are fighting against their own interests, for testimonials are required as their security against the intrusion of unfit persons.
And it is not unreasonable to suppose that the Bishop, who has familiar intercourse with the clergy, may have opportunities of knowing which the laity have not. And it is most desirable on all accounts that the laity and the Bishop should be satisfied as to the election.
Secondly--on Confirmation. It is no doubt a great benefit to parishes to have this holy rite administered frequently. But it should not be overlooked that there is as much if not more need for watchfulness after Confirmation is over than during the preparation for it. The minds of the young are open to every kind of impression, and when the first fit of earnestness has spent itself, if the priest be not watchful to strengthen the good impression which was made, there may be a speedy declension from the promise of early piety, or a disposition to seek assistance elsewhere. For this reason Bible classes or Communicants' classes are needed after confirmation; and the clergy must not suppose that their work is ended when there are no more to be confirmed at that special time. The young require clear and definite teaching, lessons of reverence in regard to the service of Holy Communion, which, if they do not get from us, they will learn nowhere else. We must not take it for granted that they have all they ought to know on such matters. It is highly probable that no definite instruction has ever been given them by their parents on the fundamental doctrines of their religion.
Next, I would speak on the Marriage Service. I know of no more solemn rite in the whole Prayer Book than this. The symbolism of the rite taught us by St. Paul; the solemn appeal to "the dreadful day of judgment, when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed;" the certainty that "those who are coupled together otherwise than God's Word doth allow are not joined together by God," and even if their matrimony be legal, it is not in God's sight lawful; the solemn espousal "till death do us part;" the three-fold blessing; the prayer that they may "live together in holy love unto their lives' end"--these repeated cautions and warnings and blessings invest this rite with a significance and seriousness unsurpassed. And yet, where is there a rite more irreverently handled? I do not speak of the baser sin that is sometimes committed before marriage, but of the frivolousness with which matrimony is undertaken. The absence of religious feeling, especially of religious unity; legality made the sole measure of lawfulness; the money-making business which often forms the chief desire for union; the hasty performing of the rite in a house, where the prayers seem unsuitable, the blessings unfit, where the whole wish is to make the service as short as possible; or if it be fashionable to go to Church, the crowd of irreverent gazers, bent on nothing but criticism on the dress of those who are appealing to God for His sanction and His blessing--when all these signs of frivolity are manifest, who can wonder that the rules and prohibitions of the Church are trampled under foot? that bonds so lightly made are as lightly regarded, and that in a neighboring country (as stated on high authority) one in ten of every family is said to have had a divorce, and in some cases two or three divorces; so that mutual respect and family love have been broken up again and again. What kind of children must such disunions produce? A heathen poet who lived in a loose age will tell us--
Aetas parentum, pejor avis, tulit
Nos nequiores mox daturus
I thank God we have not got so low as this. But we should fear lest one step further should lead us to a point from which we cannot go back.
The clergy, then, will do well to refuse to sanction unions prohibited by their own church laws, and to exhort and persuade their parishioners to have marriages celebrated in the most reverent way; and further, which is probably the more difficult task, to persuade them not to contract marriages where there is no bond of religious union, more especially where it is almost certain that the validity of our orders and Holy Sacraments will be denied. Or, they will have to submit to being re-baptized, re-confirmed, and then deprived, as they most richly deserve, of one essential part of the Holy Sacrament of the Lord's body and blood. If you think highly of holy matrimony you will endeavor to counteract such evils as opportunity may be afforded you.
It only remains for me now to thank you for the many marks of your respect and confidence which have been shown to me on several occasions. A Bishop can only be useful when he acts, not as an autocrat over his clergy, but as their fellow-laborer, in concert with them in the duties of their common calling; and in the exercise of his ministry, the Church of God from the earliest days has committed to his care functions in which priests take a subordinate part. The clergy will readily acknowledge that these spiritual powers have been entrusted to him for the strength and protection of the whole body of the faithful, according to the wise rules which the Church herself imposes.
A Bishop is as much restrained as a priest in matters of the highest moment by the creeds which are the bulwarks of our faith, and by the definite and clear interpretation of Holy Scriptures, which our offices severally contain. As long as we abide by these landmarks there must be a substantial and visible union amongst us, greater than the mere opinions of any single member or officer of the Church. It were to be desired that we should see eye to eye in all things; and that there should be no division, even of opinion, but that we should be "perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." But as this is not to be expected, and some points, either of ritual or of speculative theology, will probably always remain open to discussion, our best security is that charitable construction of the actions and motives of others which each man unquestionably desires to be practised towards himself. In these respects the Church of England occupies the peculiar position of being more tolerant and comprehensive than any other religious body with which we are acquainted; and while there is a considerable diversity as to the means by which reverence is promoted, the Church inflexibly holds fast to primitive doctrine, primitive order, and practical piety. So that whilst there has been in the last fifty years a peaceful revolution in matters not absolutely fundamental, and in the aspect in which certain theological opinions are presented to the mind, and multitudes see no evil whatever in what they formerly looked upon with distaste, or even with horror, the Church has not departed one iota from the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, and at the same time she has been everywhere stirred up to greater and more earnest efforts in reclaiming the fallen, in searching for the wandering, and in promoting every design which tends to the practice of reverence and love.
It has ever been my earnest desire and prayer to act on such principles; and if in the prosecution of these I have seemed to any of you to exceed the bounds of a sober judgment, I trust that you will understand that I have not acted without much weighing of the subject in all its parts. As Bishop of the Diocese I only claim what seems to me to be an essential part of the Episcopal office: to mediate between conflicting opinions and to give complete toleration and support to all that may fairly be considered as within the limits of the Church in the Province of New Brunswick. A narrower line than this does not commend itself to my judgment; and I am ready to bear patiently whatever amount of censure may be thrown upon me for having adopted it. More than this I need not say; less could hardly be said by one who has the courage of his convictions, and who desires to embrace in the circle of his charity and his prayers schools of thought which differ, and methods of action which vary, but which are consistent with the hearty love for the ark which contains us all. Brethren, the grace of God be with your spirit. Amen.